James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie and David Suchet are among the big-name cast that’s been set to perform a series of unproduced screenplays under the Unmade Movies banner for the BBC’s Radio 4. The collection, which airs over the next three Saturdays, includes works from Arthur Miller, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock. Unmade Movies producer Laurence Bowen tells Deadline that though there is no fixed plan for the stagings to air in the U.S., a release is being worked on for after the UK transmission. Suchet will star in Miller’s The Hook, the story of a 1950s Brooklyn longshoreman who is fired for standing up to his corrupt union boss and decides to fight back. Miller developed the script with Elia Kazan, but when Columbia’s Harry Cohn asked Miller to turn the union bosses into communists, Miller refused and the screenplay was shelved. He and Kazan then fell out and went on to write A View From The Bridge and On The Waterfront, respectively. McAvoy will star in Welles’ Heart Of Darkness, which originally was adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel in 1939. Forty years later, the book became the basis for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The Blind Man by Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman was written shortly after the duo worked on North By Northwest. The 1961-set story is about a famous blind jazz pianist who agrees to an eye transplant. The operation is a success, but the eyes are those of a murdered man and on them is transposed the image of his murderer. Bowen discovered the script, which Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss has completed and will direct with Laurie starring.
In a first for a UK soap opera, primetime staple EastEnders has cast a transgender actor to play a transgender character in a continuing role. Riley Carter Millington will join the cast as Kyle, who first will appear this month, then return permanently at the end of the year. This is Millington’s first TV role. “I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders,” he says. “I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams — to be living my life as a man and to be an actor.” EastEnders, which first aired in 1985 and is a consistent ratings winner for the BBC, has been at the forefront of groundbreaking storylines before. Exec producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said earlier this year that he was creating a transgender character and that he was determined to have a transgender actor in the role. EastEnders undertook workshops to find an actor, and as soon as the show found Riley, the character of Kyle was created and developed. “In Riley, we have found not just a talented actor but also an inspirational young man whose warmth immediately comes through the screen. And this isn’t about tokenism. Alex Lamb and his story team have worked with Riley to create an EastEnders character who is fresh and relatable — but also comes with his own stock of secrets and is going to be thrown right into one of our biggest stories for the end of the year.”
John Malone’s Liberty Global and co-investor e.ventures have taken a combined 14% stake in Bigballs Media, the digital fan-led soccer media business that’s also behind Sky and NBC’s You, Me And The Apocalypse. The partners have invested £7M ($10.74M) to back what Bigballs calls “a highly ambitious growth plan.” Bigballs Media was founded in 2006 “and forged from a passion for storytelling in the digital age where real audience engagement, participation and community drive results.” The deal with Liberty Global is a way for Malone’s giant to hedge against younger viewers who are turning away from traditional TV in favor of online and on-demand services, FT noted. BBM’s Copa90 football brand and the wider Copa Network reach over 10M young fans around the world notably via a YouTube channel that specializes in original content for soccer lovers. BBM sees itself as a disruptor of a status quo “dominated by expensive television offers,” the company said in a statement. It recently acquired KICKTV, the largest digital channel for soccer news, culture, lifestyle and entertainment in North America. Part of the plan is to build out infrastructure to create, distribute, commercialize and build brands and partnerships in Europe, Asia and the U.S., localizing and telling more relevant stories in each territory. The company has invested in the coverage of major soccer tournaments and is also increasing its investment in audience science technology, distribution and owned platforms. The board is led by CEO Tom Thirlwall.